SAN SALVADOR – Recently-appointed Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez was welcomed on Tuesday on his arrival in El Salvador by President Salvador Sanchez Ceren and some 500 Catholic faithful, who received him with prayers, chants and cheers.
“I’m happy to return to my homeland and I bring a message of hope, joy and peace from the Holy Father ... (to) work for that new world that we’ve dreamed so much about,” Rosa Chavez told reporters upon his arrival.
He said that he is returning to the country “with much excitement, much hope and with tasks” commissioned by Pope Francis, whose main themes are “peace, the fight against violence, family, real democracy, migrants (and) the poor.”
“That is what is on the pope’s agenda and on my agenda as his close collaborator ... (and) now that we’re very close to him, we can say many things into his ear and also listen to his advice,” he added.
Regarding the beatification process for Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, who was assassinated in 1980 as he was celebrating Mass and to whom Rosa Chavez dedicated his cardinalate, he said that “it’s going very well, at the pace it has to go,” but “the country has to deserve that favor by doing what it has to do.”
The Catholic faithful began arriving at the Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport early Tuesday morning carrying signs and posters, and wearing t-shirts, bearing the cardinal’s image.
The public came from all around the country and broke out in happy cheers when they saw Rosa Chavez emerge from the arrival hall, having awaited him amid prayers and religious songs.
“Monsignor Rosa Chavez deserves (to be appointed cardinal) because he’s a humble man, with great spiritual gifts and close to the neediest people, the poorest ones,” Maria de Alas told EFE.
Rosa Chavez’s agenda for the rest of the day includes a visit to the Monument to Peace en route to the capital, a visit to Romero’s mausoleum and a Mass at the San Francisco Church, where he served for years as the parish priest.
Pope Francis on June 28 named five bishops, including Rosa Chavez – who had been the auxiliary bishop of San Salvador – to the post of cardinal in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican.
Rosa Chavez, born in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1970, is the first auxiliary bishop in history to be named cardinal and is one of the main promoters of Romero’s canonization. He was also one of the Salvadoran Church’s representatives at the peace talks that put an end to the country’s 1980-1992 civil war.